Can you tell if someone is flirting with you?

Can you tell if someone is flirting with you?
Can you tell if someone is flirting with you?

Not sure if that cute guy or girl is flirting with you? You’re not alone. Most people are pretty clueless when it comes to spotting if they’ve hit lucky, say researchers.

Flirting isn’t always obvious. That makes sense since no one wants to come across as creepy. What’s more, openly showing your interest makes you vulnerable to rejection.

Even when it is pretty clear someone is flirting with you, it can be hard to work out how to read it. Are they just playing around? Are they actually interested in a date? Or are they just looking for sex?

That’s precisely what a team of US researchers wanted to find out. They were curious about how good we are at telling when someone we’ve just met is flirting with us.

They matched opposite-sex heterosexual strangers, and got them to have a chat for about 10 minutes. But then afterwards, the researchers asked each of the chatters two key questions: "Did you flirt?" and "Did the other person flirt?" What’s more, they also filmed the conversations, showed the videos to strangers and asked them if they thought the guy or the girl they’d watched in the clip was flirting.

Of the female participants, fewer than a fifth guessed right when asked if their partner was being flirtatious. With the guys, more than a third got it right. But that still leaves the vast majority who are clueless when it comes to detecting that someone digs them.

Both guys and girls are much better at knowing when someone isn’t into them at all. More than 80 per cent of the time, both sexes guessed correctly that their partner was definitely not flirting.

So next time you’re out with friends and you think someone’s definitely not into you, chances are you’re right. Of course, what you really want to know is when someone is flirting with you. Keep your eyes peeled, because this research shows that most of us miss out on that flirtatious guy or girl.